Someone asked me recently how often I actually use Ayurveda in my day to day life. The answer is ALL THE TIME. Ayurveda forms the foundation and the framework for the decisions I make about daily routine, diet, exercise and so much more. That’s what I love about Ayurveda; once you understand the basic principles, you can apply them to pretty much anything and everything (if you want to get started learning about Ayurveda, check out the resources page for my favorite books and websites). While Ayurveda informs everything in my life, there are a handful of Ayurvedic practices and principles that I find are essential to living a healthy vibrant life. These are the things that I do every single day and that I feel have the biggest impact on my health and well-being. So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed and wondering where to start when incorporating Ayurveda into your life, look no further…
1. Scrape your tongue
Tongue scraping removes toxins that have accumulated overnight and kickstarts the process of digestion. I do this every morning before brushing my teeth.
2. Neti and Nasya
Neti clears the sinuses and nasya (administering oil to the sinuses) keeps the mucous membrane healthy and hydrated. These two go hand in hand and I never recommend doing neti without also doing nasya since the saline will dry out your sinuses and cause irritation. I do neti in the morning and nasya at night.
3. Fast Between Meals
Ayurveda encourages fasting between meals to stimulate fat burning metabolism (which results in more stable energy levels throughout the day). Eating before the previous meal has been fully digested dampens the digestive fire so I always try to leave at least three hours between meals. Avoid snacking, make lunch the biggest meal of the day, and eat and early, light dinner.
4. Avoid Cold Food and Drink
Following Ayurvedic dietary best practices has done wonders for my digestion. According to Ayurveda consuming cold food and drink results in sluggish digestion and the production of ama or toxicity. Favor room temperature water and warm, cooked foods.
5. Practice Nose Breathing
I love getting outside and enjoy running, skiing, biking, hiking, and paddle boarding but no matter what I’m doing I try to exercise in a way that doesn’t tap into the sympathetic nervous system and trigger the fight or flight response. This means breathing in and out of my nose as much as possible while exercising (you can read all about this technique and the science behind it here).
6. Nadi Shodhana
Breathwork is a simple and powerful way to balance the doshas. If I feel stressed or anxious I practice nadi shodhana. Check out this post for more details.
Abhyanga is something I wish I did every day. I’m better about doing it daily during the winter, but most of the time I don’t make time for abhyanga like I should. That said, I’ve experienced the benefits of abhyanga and can 100% recommend making this a part of your daily routine. Abhyanga improves circulation, moisturizes the skin and lubricates the tissues and joints. I like to do this in the shower but you can also do it before showering or in the bath. Liberally apply warm untoasted sesame oil, coconut oil, or herbal massage oil all over your body. Spend 10-15 minutes massaging the oil into your skin. Use circular motions on the head, ears, joints, stomach and lower back and long strokes on the long bones. Make sure to spend plenty of time on your scalp, hands and feet. Allow the warm water of the shower or bath to drive the oil deeper into your skin before toweling off. You can also do abhyanga before bed if that makes more sense with your schedule. It’s a great way to wind down for the night. Make sure to wash your towels with baking soda and hot water and air dry them as oily towels can catch fire in the dryer.